You sit with your nose pointed towards the cool glass of the train window; waiting, as I wait, for our journey to begin. I’ve watched you like this every day, and every day a new expression will cross your features as though you were more complex than the mere child you are.
Across the way, where your eyes have settled, sits a young woman not yet old enough to be out in the world, and yet there she is, assaulting your own innocence with an appearance of feigned virtue.
Her eyes track the pages and your eyes track her, and if my own will were stronger I’d move you away from the sight. I know how unsettling the strange creatures of our world can be, especially those so similar to oneself, and it was never my intention to have you fear them, and yet I can see in your eyes that you are scared.
You turn to me and your features, small as they are, betray your repressed fear. This will not do, I tell myself, and as I move to take your hand and lead you away your face breaks into the widest of grins, you point to the girl and you say, light as ever, with the curiosity and wonder only a child can convey: “Daddy, look at the mermaid! Do you think I can be a mermaid too?”
It is in these moments that I fear myself, that I do not understand your own mind, the way I as a parent should do.
This work was inspired by Baudelaire’s piece entitled Eyes of the Poor, and I would definitely recommend reading it. It says a lot about assuming what we know about a person, even those we are closest to, or most intimate with.